A Colonial Milestone

Jaiprakash Raghaviah | Jul 01, 2015 | Vol. 7, Issue 4
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A beautiful heritage place of devotion that evoke nostalgia of an era gone by – the St. Mary's Church is both beautiful and hallowed.

Standing at the cross section where the two roads congregate (Kannur Road and Wayanad Road) is the St. Mary's Church, Kozhikode. The church was established in 1864 as a Garrison Church and was part of the British ecclesiastical establishment. Malabar became a district of the Madras presidency in 1800. Kozhikode was selected as the headquarters of the district. There was a British garrison here located in the present East Hill. This establishment is still under the control of Indian Army and is a recruitment centre. Being a garrison church, St. Mary's church was designed by British military engineers who used models that existed in England. St. Mary's church could be a replica in design and architecture of some similar church in England. The church was renovated twice and extensions added, the last being in 1953. The Anglican order of worship is followed here. Till independence, English Chaplains were in charge of the church, and they were paid by the British Government.

Three distinct groups worshipped in this garrison church. First were the soldiers and officers of the British military establishment. A majority of them were English but Indians were also there. The second group belonged to the civilian administration in Malabar. This included District Collectors, Police officials, doctors, engineers and administrators of the British Government. They were mostly British, but at the lower rungs there were Indians. The third group comprised the managers and officers of the British firms in India, firms like M/s Pierce Leslie, Aspinwal and Co., Harrison and Crossfield, Volkart Brothers, and English and Scottish Company. While the majority of managers and officers were Whites, junior employees were Indians.

After Independence, the composition of the congregation has undergone a change. The English returned home. Now the congregation consists of those who have come years back to Calicut for employment and subsequently settled down in Kozhikode.

St Mary's Church has an ambience of an English country church. The church has garden on both sides and freshly cut flowers are placed at the altar. For services candles are lit at the altar and the whole church reverberates to the sound of organ music.

(To contact the Church- Ph: +91- 495-2768645)

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